Too many books out there give all these fancy quips about how to be a successful parent. However, most of these books are based on the results, not the means of being successful. Here is a news flash: God owns our children. Therefore, we need to take His lead in how to raise our children. He provides the means in our parenting, and the results are up to Him. Paul Tripp has given us helpful tips on those means of being a successful tool in God’s hands.
There is no higher calling in life than to be used by God to shape another human. God’s design from the beginning is to have a people for Himself to worship Him. To be fruitful and multiply and to fill our homes with children is the primary means of expanding God’s kingdom. We have disciples at our finger tips. Our closest neighbors to whom we share the gospel with are the ones who live under our roof. Parenting, like discipleship is laborious, but, Lord Willing, the fruit will be abundant.
Believing and Obeying God
God is gracious and present with those whom He called and tasked in the endeavor of raising children. In this task that He has given His people, we, as well as our children, are both confronted with law and grace. Children must be reared and brought down by the Law of God but swiftly uplifted and strengthened with the Grace of God.
However, we can follow all the checkmarks in parenting and still come up short. It is vital as a parent to know there are limitations in raising children—some things are alone left to God. We only do our best with what God has given us and let Him work as He may. You can be the best parent out there and have the worst kid. Likewise, you can be the worst parent out there and have the best kid. This doesn’t mean to sit back and do nothing. On the contrary, we will be held accountable for all of our parental failures. Parenting is a marathon and not a sprint—one who raises children are in for the long haul. Know that your children are born in sin, grow up evil and are inclined to all wickedness. They need a Savior, but that Savior is not you.
Building boundaries and exemplifying the beauty of a well ordered household is foundational building block to successful parenting. Authority issues permeate the culture and are alleviated by discipline, healthy fear, and lovingly consistent modeled behavior.
What is Bound Up
All children are fools. Fools are born and bred. A foolish child is corrected by the rod of discipline and foolishness will be driven away. Teach, correct, and lovingly use the rod of discipline to drive the folly from your children. Remember that God is the owner and the parent is the ambassador. Children belong to the Lord and He knows what is best. He has given us instruction on what to do with a fool. The book of Proverbs is chalked to the brim with admonishment to be loving by driving the foolishness away.
Foolishness can be a lack of character, but character not developed is different than blatant rebellion. From a young age, develop the character within your child. Do not teach and guide by saying merely, “No” (though, there are times when a “no” must suffice). Instead of always saying “no”, show what behavior is expected. This guides and teaches and builds that character, one Lego piece at a time.
It is common knowledge that all mankind was made to be worshipers; worshiping the one true God. Since the fall, that worship is broken and we are inclined to worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. Children are no different. They are worshipping someone or something. From their youth, it will most likely NOT be our Holy God. Like a small rudder guiding a large ship, be that constant tool of God to steer your child towards our Lord.
The Heart, The Heart
Simply and constantly controlling a child’s behavior will turn them into a robot who will turn on their maker and kill—straight out of I, Robot. The heart is what we are after in parenting. A heart change will continue with our children for their entire lives. There is a time for controlling children’s behaviors, but the focus needs to turn to our child’s heart. The application of the Word of God flows through our words to actions. The heart of the child rests with the Owner of our children. We have been given a monumental task in being His ambassador to the children He has given us. By letting our children run rampant, following the lead of the culture of ‘love’; we should not expect God to bless the fruit of our labor. Parenting is the most challenging thing I have ever done. It is harder than my marriage. It is harder than any other task I have done in life. A blacksmith is not a weakling. A blacksmith has to have strength to mold that chunk of steel. Parents need to have strength to fortify themselves and grace in their steps. The heart-the heart—by God’s enduring strength go for the heart of your child.
Resting in God’s promises and in His sovereignty is like drinking that brisk, cool water on a hot, sunny day. The Lord refreshes us, renews us, and gives us vitality and strength to persevere. Parenting is a constant battle of sinful tendencies. Its a recipe for disaster. Only by God’s grace and mercy can we stand. By the power of His love and faithfulness we carry on. We as parents must recognize our utter dependence on the Lord and rely on Him alone for us and for our children.
Tripp’s book on parenting has been called “One of the best parenting books.” This quote comes from a friend who recommended it to me and she has read a lot of these type of books! This is a summary of Tripp’s book, Parenting. I agree with my friend. Tripp’s emphasis on our children being the Lord’s possession is a key foundation that every parent must have. We do not own our children and therefore we should let Him decide how to parent.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up,” -Deuteronomy 6:4-7.
For Further Discussion:
The 10 Commands of Parenting by John McArthur
Children Aren’t Looking for Perfect Parents by Joel Beeke